I was a super-indoor person who recognized this part of me from observing myself as well as others.
On days off, I didn’t go out as much as I could, watched TV shows while sitting on the sofa in my living room, and at night felt guilty, thinking “Oh, one day passed without doing anything…”.
Such was me!
For some reason, as fate would have it, my job became oriented around outdoor work as I became a staff member of the Yoshino Town’s Forest Therapy program.
Optimistic thinking such as “ I’ll do desk work on a cold day in a nice warm room, and on a hot day in an artificially cooled environment…” just blew away. First, my job instructor took me along the “Forest Therapy Yoshino / Miyataki Manyo Course” that runs between Mt. Yoshino and Miyataki for the purpose of getting a grasp of the program and what mountain hiking in Yoshino Town entails..
In this way, the “Super Indoor Human transition to Mountain Girl” had begun.
We started the hike from Kintetsu Yoshino Station.
We walked along the path from Kintetsu Yoshino Station, and arrived at Nyoirin-ji Temple on Mt. Yoshino in about 40 minutes. After taking a break at Nyoirin-ji Temple, we started again, passing the trailhead to the Forest Therapy route. First, we walked up a gentle cobblestone path and then through an area with cherry blossoms. I imagined how the scenery in front of me might change depending on the season, such as pink in spring, vivid green in summer, and red leaves in autumn.
After that, we followed the path straight and passed through a space called “Maple Valley” which had a canopy of maple branches. During the spring season, the maple leaves were a beautiful green, making this place my favorite spot.
After a short walk from Nyoirin-ji Temple, we followed the route through the kami-senbon cherry blossom grove towards Miytaki. Steep uphill hiking awaited us, and the challenge began for me, the ultra-indoor person.
Although the path is well maintained, it is difficult for people who usually only walk on asphalt, like myself. Moreover, steep slopes with large stone steps, as was the case here. While making full use of my legs that are not normally used, I took it a step at a time.
At the end of the climb, there was a small jizo statue known as “Chigomatsu Jizo”, where I put my hands together and prayed for a safe future.
My silent but actual wish was, “I hope that I can walk to the end of this hike safely.”
After the jizo, the path turned into a gentle forest road, passing through Yoshino cedar and cypress trees.
I gasped involuntarily as the sight of straight-growing coniferous forests was a kind of beauty I had never seen before. Of course, there are lots of people who work in these forests, maintaining them. It can be said that the beauty of forest is the collaboration between the power of nature and humans.
Here’s bits of knowledge about conifers:
Cedars and cypresses emit a natural ingredient called “phytoncide,” which seems to be an effective insect repellent, this can be understood from the fact that the forests’ insect population is actually low.
In addition, “phytoncide” seems to have an effect of activating the human parasympathetic nerve, and it seems that by inhaling a large breath, we can calm down and experience a feeling of healing.
On the day of my hike it was nice weather, so I was able to see the natural components of pale phytoncide in the light shining into the forest. Being out in nature began to sharpen my senses, and I could experience the refreshing forest scent that appeals to the sense of smell.
As I walked along the ridge line, I came to a signpost marking the downhill trail route to Kisaya. I thought “The downhill will be easy!” but I was wrong. In one especially rugged section, sharp rock juts out of the surface of the path and is sometimes steep and slippery. I almost fell a few times in this area because of the odd shapes of the stones.
As I went down the path using different muscles than the ones I used for climbing, I saw a creek in front of me. Crossing the river by stepping from stone to stone made me feel like an RPG protagonist who goes on adventures. At this time, I felt excited and could enjoy the experience.
After walking for a while, we arrived at a landscape feature that can be said to be a reward for all my hard work.
The name of this reward is “Taka-taki Waterfall”
This waterfall is impressive, and even if you haven’t been particularly fascinated by waterfalls before, it has the power to draw you in.
Taking a short break, I was bathed in negative ions from Takataki and after I returned to the original path with a purified mood and body.
I no longer knew which part of my foot was tired and which part hurt, these things seemed to just fade away.
Walking a little ways from Taka-taki, I suddenly passed through the forest and came out to a village. In the village, the atmosphere changed immediately. The crisp air in the forest disappeared and the temperature was completely different. Actually it might have only been a few degrees difference, but it felt very warm.
For me, the forest walk, which was my first experience as a mountain girl, was over, and with a strange sense of accomplishment, I thought to myself “I’m soooo tired” and also that “I want to hike again sometime.”
Before the next challenge, I must first gain more strength!
The time has come to wake up this body that has been spoiled for years.